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How to Be a Good House Guest

Six Parts:On arrivalFitting inBeing self reliantAvoiding becoming the unwanted guestShowing gratitudeOn leaving

When visiting someone's home, whether they're close family, more distant relatives, friends, colleagues, it is important to be a gracious guest. It could make all the difference between a pleasant stay, or never being invited again. Following these tips will help to make your stay enjoyable for yourself and your hosts.

Part 1
On arrival

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    Be specific with dates of arrival and departure. Don't keep your visit open-ended. Also, don't book an airline reservation before you first discuss it with your host(s). If your hosts have agreed to certain dates, don't try to add on to those dates without discussing it with your host, and respect that your host will have to discuss your stay with his/her spouse.
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    Arrive when you say you will arrive. Don't show up earlier. Your host may not be ready for you and an early arrival could inconvenience them considerably. If, for some unforeseen reason, you caught an earlier connection or you had an extra day's vacation and want to arrive earlier, call them first. If they sound hesitant, tell them you will be happy to leave the plans as originally agreed upon, then find something else to do with your extra time.
    • This will also depend on who you're staying with; Mom and Dad probably won't mind at all, but a friend, colleague or even a sibling may have other commitments, so don't ask them to change their plans.
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    Avoid showing up unexpectedly several hours or even the day after you said you'd arrive. This may upset many hosts who worry about what might have happened to you, or are put out because they may have rearranged their schedules to accommodate you. This fills the air with bad vibes. Again, if you are delayed for any reason, call them and explain. They'll understand, but only if you've given reasonable explanations for your change in plans.
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    Bring a gift to say "thank you" when you arrive. Offering something as a way of thanking your hosts in advance is a thoughtful and caring gesture. It demonstrates your appreciation of their important contribution in making your stay a good one. Considerate, inexpensive gifts include a bottle of good wine, a box of chocolates, a basket of fruit, or a bouquet of flowers, or perhaps a music CD by artists from your region or country. If you don't want to carry anything extra, consider having something delivered before your arrival or buying something on the way.

Part 2
Fitting in

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    Be courteous by letting your host(s) know your plans and communicate clearly about your comings and goings from their home. If you will not be with your hosts all the time, discuss your plans to make sure that you are not going to inadvertently inconvenience them. Don't leave their home, even for a short outing, without telling them! Your host should not have to guess whether you went out or you're in your room with the door shut.
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    Be flexible. The living space designed to accommodate you on a short-term, temporary basis is the full-time home of your host(s). Make a conscious effort to adapt to their preferences and patterns. To be clear, ask about their expectations of you during your stay.
    • For example: ask if you are expected to share meals with them, what time they prefer you to turn out the lights, etc.) It is especially important to arise when your hosts do (or at least when your own children do), and accept that others have to live in the house, too.
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    • Realize that if your kids are creating chaos at 7am on the weekends (and you and your spouse are still sleeping while your kids are running around your hosts' home), this is something you should acknowledge that your hosts (who work full time demanding jobs while you are vacationing) tolerate.
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    Keep your guest area neat. Make your bed before appearing for breakfast, or peel back the covers to air the bed if that's how your host prefers it. Take care not to soil the carpet, sofa or bedspread with oil, salt, or grime from the bottom of your suitcase - to prevent this, don't roll your suitcase inside the home.
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    Keep your suitcase and belongings as unobtrusive as possible - especially if the room is a shared space, or visible to your hosts in passing by. Simply shutting the door to a messy room is not an option.
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    Do not leave your personal belongings on the dining room table all day and all night and need to be reminded to clear the table while your hosts are setting the table and preparing a home-cooked meal for you and your family. Be considerate and clear your things.
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    Tuck your suitcase out of the way to keep the common space neat.
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    If you need closet space, always ask permission first.
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    Avoid acting territorial. If you have your own bedroom, keep the door open when you are not in it, with the bed neatly made and your belongings neat and tidy.
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    Be reasonable about sharing a household bathroom. If the house only has one bathroom, ask when it is convenient for you to use it. If the family is working, going to school, etc., the last thing you want to be doing is getting underfoot. Come to an arrangement as soon as you arrive and be flexible about the use. Consideration is also expected if you are sleeping in a living area near the only bathroom; remember, others may need to use it after you go to bed. Make sure you do the following:
    • Flush the toilet and put the lid down. Do not argue with your host that you don't think the lid should be left down if that is what your host has stated as their preference in their home.
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    • Don't leave a dripping faucet, and turn off the light when you're finished.
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    • If there are more bathrooms, make sure that you use the one allocated to you and treat the other bathrooms as private.
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    • Be clean. Check that you have not left hair on the floor, or toothpaste splatters in the sink. Make sure to always leave a clean toilet behind.
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    • Guys: It's most hygienic to just sit down to urinate. But if you want to urinate standing up, lift the seat first and wipe the rim afterward and replace the seat when you are done.
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    • Girls: If you feel uncomfortable in sitting on the toilet seat, don't use all the paper for lining the seat. Instead, use just enough to wipe it clean or hover over it. If you aren't experienced in "hover-peeing", have the first four or five times a short look for sprinkles afterwards because some girls have an unusual urine stream. If you can manage to "hover-pee" without mistakes, there is no need to check the seat afterwards.
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    If towels are not placed out for you in the guest room, don't presume that the fancy towels in a shared bathroom are for you. Politely inquire, "What towels would you like me to use?" If you are provided a guest bathroom, still keep it neat and always hang the towels up in an orderly manner.
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    If you're sharing a bathroom, be considerate. Don't drape your wet towel over the hosts towels. No matter how much they like you, they probably don't want to discover that you're sharing their towel either. Don't rummage around in their cupboards looking for a toothbrush or toothpaste, or shampoo. Unless told otherwise, don't help yourself to their razor or hair products or lotions. Keep the sink and mirror clean. If you have a condition like tinea, be careful to wear flip-flops in the shower and apply medication so as not to spread this to your hosts. A disease is not the kind of parting gift your hosts will thank you for.
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    If the hosts have pets, be respectful of their needs too. Don't try to make the pet like you or subject it to being patted or give it too much attention if it's obviously getting anxious. Some pets get stress related illnesses like diarrhea following having visitors in the home. Don't feed the pet tidbits without first checking with your host.
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    Always offer to help at mealtimes. There is nothing more debilitating than having guests who sit around waiting expectantly for all meals. This is when a stay crosses over from being homey to like being in a hotel. It doesn't mean crowding the host out of the kitchen, but it does mean collecting plates, carrying out dishes, offering to wash up or stack the dishwasher, cleaning off the counters, and taking the garbage out. You could even offer to cook a meal or two yourself. If you're not sure what to do, ask! Even if the host says, "Nothing!", insist that you do at least one thing. Very few hosts can say no to this offer!
    • This is particularly important if your hosts are working and you are not. There is nothing more likely to breed resentment than coming home from a hard day's work and having to cook for people who have been sight-seeing or relaxing all day.
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    • If you are taking the time to cook for yourself, cook enough for your hosts- especially if you are using your hosts' kitchen staples and supplies.
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    Don't make assumptions. Unless you are specifically told to "help yourself to anything" in the refrigerator or pantry, always ask before taking something, and never take the last of anything. This is especially true of left-overs which are not easily reproduced, or expensive items. If you must eat your host's food while they are unavailable for consent, a good idea is to pick up some more to replace what you ate. The level of importance is often based on convenience (e.g., if the grocery store is far away, and you eat the last of something, your host is more likely to be annoyed than if the store is 2 blocks away and easily accessible), and the income level of your hosts (e.g. if your hosts make a lot of money and spend without ever worrying, they are less likely to be concerned about rationing the food than someone who makes very little money and lives on a tight budget).
    • Keep in mind that many people who make a lot of money may frequently experience house guests whose attitude is that they can well afford to pay for them so it may be a pleasant surprise for them to have a thoughtful house guest offer to help out even if that help is declined.
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    • In most cases, your hosts will likely not say anything if you commit a faux-pas like one of these, but that does not mean they didn't notice. In an effort to avoid any tension or inconvenience to the host(s), you should assume "you ate it, you replace it".
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    • Note: buying the same product but keeping it in a separate area from the common food or eating all of it yourself, or taking it with you when you leave does not mean replacing it. If you choose to consume your hosts' food and they buy organic, do not replace it with conventional items, either make the effort to buy similar products for your hosts or don't consume their food.
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    • Do not assume that it is okay to go through your hosts' closets, drawers, etc. when you need something. Ask where you can find it or if they can get it for you.
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    Be aware of cultural/personal/family differences. For example, you may be an omnivore staying with a vegan family, but it is always polite to try what they offer to serve you. Be respectful, and do not criticize your hosts' preferences. If eating a certain kind of food is a violation of your cultural or religious beliefs, please let your hosts know before you arrive. They will no doubt appreciate the heads-up, and respect any cultural or religious beliefs you may have. And if you were brought up to believe that men don't do housework and your hosts think otherwise, it's time to step out of your comfort zone and contribute to the household like everyone else is expected to.
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    Remember, your buddy's wife is not your cook or your maid and if she was not okay with your stay, your buddy would show you the door, so recognize that. It is irrelevant how long you have known your friend or whether you treat your own wife like a maid––your friend will absolutely side with his spouse if he sees you acting like an unappreciative pig and treating his wife like your maid.
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    Speak in the same language, literally. If you are a house guest who speaks a foreign language, try to do so sparingly in front of your hosts. This is a general courtesy that applies to other situations, but it's more important when your hosts who are housing you are present and attempting to entertain you or just live their lives normally.
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    Be careful about Internet and phone usage. If you need to use the Internet or phone at your hosts' home, rather than assuming you can use their facilities, make sure you ask them first if this is okay with them. If there are costs involved (especially with long-distance calls), make sure you leave adequate payment. Better yet, use your own cell phone. Regardless of the financial implications, sitting on the Internet all night is just plain rude.
    • If you do use your hosts' computer, be thoughtful and just check your e-mails, your favorite updates and then shut down and return to the conversation.
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    • If you need to read your e-mail, why not source the Internet at a local cafe or library, or using your own roaming mobile source, rather than from your hosts' home lines? This will be less intrusive, and not interrupt their schedule (i.e. children's homework, etc.)
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Part 3
Being self reliant

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    Offer to make contributions. Even if you're not eating at your host's home, offer to purchase the groceries (after all, you still need their toilet paper!). This is usually the most burdensome additional cost for your hosts. Remember that they have probably already been shopping for extra groceries and spent a considerable amount of time and money to get ready for your visit. You could either bankroll their next supermarket trip, or you could offer to go out and buy things for both yourself and for them (ask them for a list).
    • If your host is embarrassed to give you a list, make regular financial contributions, like accompanying your hosts to the supermarket and paying at the checkout, or leaving money out in an obvious place on a regular basis clearly indicating it is for groceries.
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    • If your host does not wish you to contribute, still do so. Buy grocery items regularly that are consistent with the items they use in the home. For longer stays of more than a couple of days, assisting with the grocery bill is crucial!
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    • Whatever the length of your visit, at least offer to take your hosts out for dinner. It should be the restaurant of their choice; although if you suggest it the right way, they also might enjoy a restaurant featuring local cuisine that they think will impress you as a visitor.
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    Do your own laundry. Don't be embarrassed about asking whether it is okay to do your laundry at your host's place. They understand that after a few days you'll have dirty underwear. Don't make the request sound like you're hoping they might add your laundry to their laundry chores. And never presume that the washing machine or dryer is available; always ask your host when the most convenient time is for you to do your laundry, emphasizing that you don't want to cut into the household's normal routine.
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    Entertain yourself. Your hosts are offering you their home but not necessarily their time. Let your hosts make it clear whether or not they have the time to take you to places, or to spend entire evenings with you. They may work from home and need to take calls without the TV blaring from the other room. They may work during the daytime away from home, or work the night shift and have to sleep during the day. Don't presume that you can rely on their generosity to drive you to places or to show you around.
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    Be prepared to catch public transportation and taxis. Alternatively, rent a car for yourself, especially if you plan on seeing many of the local sights, or if you are more active than your hosts.
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    Your hosts may have already visited the sights many times before, especially if they live in a tourist-destination town. If they do take you to sights they have seen, make sure you pay their admittance if there is a charge. After all, you would have had to pay much more if you went on an organized tour or were paying accommodation costs to be there. Sightseeing costs are additional for hosts as a direct result of having you as a guest.
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    Take some time out to be on your own, to allow your hosts to have some time to themselves without having to "entertain" you. If you're staying with your hosts for any length of time, it's a good idea to regularly schedule in going for a walk, or retreat to your room to read a book or take a short nap at a convenient time. This way the hosts can plan to get caught up on things they may have put on hold while you are staying with them.

Part 4
Avoiding becoming the unwanted guest

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    Don't overstay your visit. Your hosts may not be on vacation as you are (most have to work while you play), and even though they have graciously invited you into their home, they have already rearranged their normal routines on your behalf. Their hospitality also requires their investment of time, energy, and money for extra food and drink, utilities, and other costs. If you're unsure of your departure date, keep your hosts apprised of relevant updates as they develop -- your hosts should not have to guess or ask you what your departure plans are, especially if your stay is longer than two weeks.
    • A short stay is a pleasant stay and leaves everyone feeling good about each other. As Ben Franklin once said, "Fish and visitors stink after three days." If you are staying for a longer period, consider putting the arrangement on a business footing, or finding ways to leave and stay elsewhere for a few days to give your hosts some private time.
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    If you think you're an exception to this rule because you've been buddies with your friend for 20 years, don't. Do you think your friend who is married without children wants to host your family with two kids for an extended period of time? The answer is probably not. If you think you're an exception, go ahead and "check in". And by "check in" this would mean asking, "How is this arrangement working for you?" vs. "Dude, sorry we're here." The latter merely states the obvious and is not a helpful way to give your host a convenient segue to suggest alternative housing options.
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    Keep yourself neat. Family members may tolerate each others' personal habits because they have had years to get used to them (or learn to tolerate them). Expect to shower daily, if that is what your hosts do, and do not take overly long about it, respecting that it is their shower not yours, and be especially aware of body odor. What may be "no big deal" or "natural" in your own household, may be offensive in your host's household, and most hosts will be reluctant to approach you about it.
    • Have you been working outside? Have you been sweating or wearing shoes without socks? You may wish to keep your shoes outside the door, change your shirt and put on more deodorant. Do not sit on the couch all sweaty after a long run. Always shower as soon as you get back after exercising.
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    • Brush your teeth morning and evening (or if you have eaten food with a strong odor, such as garlic or onions). Also be aware that your dirty laundry retains the smell - wash them as soon as possible.
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    Take daily, but short showers--it is also rude to run out the hot water or run up the electric bill for your host. If your hosts ask you to open the window after your shower to evacuate the steam from the bathroom and protect the paint in the bathroom, do so each time you take a hot shower.
    • Also, be aware that showering daily might be a luxury as far as your hosts are concerned and would be a drain on your hosts' heating and water bills that they might not be expecting, appreciate, or afford.
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    • If you feel you must shower frequently, especially when your hosts do not, show you appreciate the additional cost by making a suitable contribution to the cost in advance so they do not have a growing concern about you overusing their heating and water.
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    Do you very best to not pass anything to your hosts. If you have anything contagious, take care with hygiene (use shower sandals, use alcohol gel if you have a cold). If you are traveling with children, and they get something contagious, cancel your trip unless you absolutely have to go. Nothing is as cheerless as a family struck down by a stomach flu because a guest brought it into the house.
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    Clean up after yourself promptly. Do not leave your dirty dishes in the sink. Even if you find that your host leaves his/her dishes piled in the sink, doing this yourself is considered very rude. You should leave the kitchen cleaner than you found it, but hopefully it goes without saying that you clean your dishes as soon as you're done with them.
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    When getting up in the night or very early in the morning, remember to be careful not to disturb your hosts. Aside from concerning them and making them think you may be in need of help, it makes for tired hosts and significant annoyance. Loudly banging doors,flicking on lights outside their bedroom, or generally making a lot of noise will ensure that you're remembered as that guest they will never want to have stay again. Guaranteed.
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    Don't keep the hosts up late. It doesn't matter how long it has been since you last saw them, or how many exciting stories you have to tell them. Let your hosts get to bed for a decent night's rest. You may be feeling so excited at seeing them that you don't even notice your own exhaustion from traveling, so it will benefit you to go to bed at a reasonable hour, too. Likewise, don't sleep in and make your host family tiptoe around you. Be considerate. Bring your own earphones for listening to music or for watching TV, so as not to disturb your host, who may prefer some quiet time, or doesn't share your appreciation for music or certain TV shows.
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    Be home on time. Unless you have made a clear arrangement with your hosts that you'll be coming and going as and when you please, give your hosts an idea of when you'll return. If your hosts are providing you with an evening meal, be there at least half an hour before mealtime. This gives you time to assist with the meal, help set the table or carry out other household chores. If you're late for a meal, call first and explain. Better yet, if you've been out sightseeing all day and know that you'll be home late, don't come home hungry - assuming that your host is waiting to feed you. Have dinner while you're out, or bring dinner home with you, (pizza will do!) and bring enough for your hosts.
    • Be extra quiet on arriving back late, and if given a key, use it. Then, turn out the lights and make sure to lock the door behind you.
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    Do not invite other people to the residence without first clearing it with your hosts. This is just common courtesy, as you are a guest in their home. Inviting your friends over for the day or for overnight stays without your host's permission is not appropriate. Respect for your hosts' authority on who comes and goes within their own home is paramount. It doesn't matter if the extra visitors are pleasant to be around or loud and rude, having even more people afoot can be an additional financial burden as well as an inconvenience, especially if they were not personally invited by your hosts.

Part 5
Showing gratitude

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    Be appreciative. Show appreciation for the local food, sightseeing, and other attractions. Do not criticize or compare anything in a superior way to how things are done where you live. If your hosts have provided you with a home-cooked meal, show your appreciation by offering to take care of the next meal. If your hosts were thoughtful enough to have prepared special accommodations for you, (e.g. providing toys for your kids) make sure that you return the toys as they were lent to you (parts intact, in the correct boxes, etc.) so your hosts don't need to spend time re-organizing after you leave.
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    Leave a thank-you gift on your departure. Again, nothing overly expensive if you have had a brief stay; just a small token of appreciation to show that you appreciated their hospitality. The value of the gift should be relative to the length of your stay. Flowers, a bottle of wine, fresh berries or a hand-written card are nice tokens.
    • Do your homework, and try to choose something that you know they will like.
    • Give some thought to how you would like your hosts to remember you. Do you want to be invited back?
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    • If you can't get to a shop to buy a suitable gift, consider having flowers delivered. Remember, certain flowers in some cultures are associated with mourning - show sensitivity and good sense.
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    Don't behave as if it's your own home. Be respectful of their belongings and adapt to your hosts' lifestyle. There may be children, pets, elderly parents, etc. in the home, which you may be unaccustomed to living with. After all, you no doubt knew this before you came! Enjoy it, and try to learn something from the experience. Also, be very careful with your language around younger children. They will remember and repeat anything you say, good or bad. Adapt to their lifestyle, rather than expect that they accommodate yours.

Part 6
On leaving

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    Strip your bedclothes on leaving. You're not staying in a hotel and your host will have to wash your sheets and towels when you leave. Make it easier by removing sheets, pillow cases and any other linens. Place them in a neat pile on the foot of the bed or in the laundry hamper. Better yet, start washing them for your host. After all, you've probably been washing your own clothes during your stay, so you'll be familiar with using the washer and dryer. During your visit, if you've stayed long enough that your sheets require washing, do them yourself and remake your own bed.
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    Make sure to factor in utility costs and cleaning products into any remuneration you will give to your hosts. Does your host use a housecleaning service? Offer to pay for it. You may even offer to contribute to the cost of cleaning supplies and laundry costs (especially if your host lives in an apartment building where coin-operated washer/dryers are expensive to use).
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    Leave quietly and thoughtfully. If you have to leave really early in the morning, say your farewells the night before. If you're departing late at night or early in the morning, book your own transportation. Do not expect the host to run you to the airport or bus station unless the host suggests it, even if you are leaving at a reasonable hour. If you leave when the hosts are at work or are out, make sure you have made prior arrangements to leave the keys somewhere safe and that you're sure how to lock the place up properly.
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    Send a thank-you note. Send a small card or an e-card to say thanks when you return home. Yes, it's a lot of thank-you's, but it's polite to acknowledge the fact that your hosts opened their home to you, and it keeps the potential open for a repeat stay when your visit is remembered amicably by all. This is particularly important when you know the timing of your visit was not ideal for your hosts but they agreed to accommodate you anyway.
    • An example of an inconvenient time to be visiting for an extended period of time is prior to your hosts' wedding or other important family milestones, and it is especially important to show explicit appreciation if you did not help with meals, with cleanup, or offer financial contributions for your stay.
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    Thank your hosts for the stay and help them clean up. Also don't rush out of the house then you are leaving, as the hosts might think that you did not appreciate your stay.


  • Some hosts are very fastidious about tidiness and cleanliness. Apart from being as tidy as you can be, also be careful about offering to do cleaning for them apart from picking up after yourself, clearing the table or washing the dishes. If you notice (after you've been there a few days) that the floor needs to be swept, or the carpet needs to be vacuumed, offer to do it. Gauge it from what you know of their usual way of keeping house, and be considerate and tactful.
  • At times, with certain differences between your lifestyle and your hosts', you may feel like you're treading on tiptoes, but remember, it should be possible to reach a tolerant arrangement for a comfortable stay. Be open, honest and considerate. If it becomes clear that your stay is irritating, discuss with your host how you might make things more agreeable for them.
  • Some hosts are not bright and chipper first thing in the morning, and may be accustomed to quiet, private time. If you are unsure, err on the side of giving your host a little private time, they may be accustomed to it.
  • Pay attention to the security instructions in your host's home; you don't want to expose them to an insurance liability if you didn't lock up properly. Take good care of any keys that they loan you. Offer to replace what you have used.
  • If you have special dietary needs, bring your own food. Offer to take care of your own special dietary needs and be clear about what this means by way of food preparation. However, be ready to prepare them yourself. If you couldn't bring the items with you, ask your host where you can purchase them.
  • Some hosts like guests that will help themselves and make themselves feel at home.For example, some will like if you get yourself your own snacks, while others will not. Try finding out if your host likes if you do or not.
  • Always offer to help in the kitchen. Be sensitive - if it becomes clear when you're asking to help that your host is a one-person-in-the-kitchen cook, leave it alone. If this is the case, there are other ways you can help out in the house. Be lateral in thinking about ways to help. Respect their customs and choices, just as you'd want yours respected in your home.
  • Always be generous. Remember, it is insulting to your host to make a token gesture that only covers a very small proportion of their costs, unless you are going to be able to return the favor within a short timescale. When you provide a cash donation towards gas and food, make sure you adequately acknowledge additional expenses, such as the extra costs in meeting you at the airport (e.g. parking, and costs of any day trips on which they may have taken you, as well as basic food and utilities). Otherwise, you run the risk of making your kind hosts feel taken for granted and "used".
  • If your host offers to provide your transportation, at least pay for their gas! Remember, it's a round trip drive for your hosts when they pick you up or take you back to the airport or bus station. It's still no doubt cheaper for you than taking a shuttle or taxi, and should not be at your host's expense.
  • It is preferable to make donations regularly during your stay, at the time costs are incurred. Your hosts will appreciate this, will see your gratitude in "present time", and can then acknowledge and thank you immediately for making regular contributions.
  • Please do not keep looking at things on your cell phone or tablet while with your host. It is just plain rude. Save that for when you are in your room. If you do keep your cell phone nearby, for calls, please turn off annoying notification sounds. Do you really need to have your phone go off every time you receive an email or Facebook post?
  • If you ask your host want you can bring and they tell you, then bring it. ex. You asked and your host said to bring what you'd like for breakfast, however you don't bring anything. It is not acceptable to rummage through their pantry/frig and take what you'd like. Better yet, don't ask...just always bring things that you know you'll want. Don't assume that your host will provide everything.
  • Your host has been extremely generous allowing you to stay. Take them out to dinner! And if you should decide to order in and there happens to be leftovers, it is not proper for you to take those upon your departure. If you bring wine, it becomes a gift of the host.
  • Your host is paying for a lot more than you realize when you are a guest. Utilities, food, cleaning all adds up. This is your vacation, not theirs. Always offer to help by driving, paying for gas and parking when appropriate.
  • If you and your host have traveled together and you are accustomed to "splitting" costs, now, as a house guest, is not the time to do the same. They are taking care of you and spending more on you and doing a lot more for you than you realize.
  • If while there with your significant other, you have a fight. DO NOT take it upon yourself to go and sleep in another room. This is not your home! Would you go and pay for another room in a hotel? Probably not. So don't do this in someone's home. You are incurring more work for your host by having to clean another room (sheets at least).
  • Just because you are a guest in someone's home, don't assume that your stay is free. Always remember that your so called free stay costs them plenty. Try to think about what this would cost you if you did indeed have to pay for a hotel. Yes, "you" are saving money by staying with them...however, they are not. Show them your appreciation by helping with work (cooking, laundry, etc.), don't just tell them. Always bring a hostess gift and send a thank you afterwards.


  • Always keep your personal possessions (clothes, toys, wallets, etc.) out of the common areas. The host may not be the neatest person in the world, but he or she will certainly not appreciate seeing your things cluttering up the living room, dining room or kitchen counters.
  • Be helpful, and remember that being helpful means doing things that your hosts would normally have to do. Being helpful means that you are saving your host of time, energy, or other expense. If you visit with two kids and they drop food all over the floor when they eat and you spend time every day to sweep the floor, this is not being "helpful." This is picking up after your own family. Similarly, if you are taking the trash out thinking that you're being helpful you should recognize that your visiting family of four who is eating 3 meals a day in your hosts' home accumulates a lot more trash than your hosts who are married without kids and who are at work all day. If you are staying in your friends' house for 2 months and cooking only for yourselves and not contributing financially, cleaning up after your own family and taking the trash out is the very least you could do.
  • Always replace anything you damage. Even if it was an accident, you are responsible, and should make it right for your host by fixing the item, replacing the item or leaving a monetary settlement. Doing so shows that you respect another's possessions. Not addressing it can leave long memories of the issue, and it will certainly get around in family or friendship circles.
  • Never, ever, gossip about or criticize your hosts, their homes or family members, especially during your stay. It's disrespectful and rude. You'll only declare yourself an ungrateful guest, unlikely to be invited even by those with whom you gossip. Avoid gossip about other hosts you might have had, it makes your current hosts wonder what you will say about them.
  • Do not interpret your welcome into someone's home as permission to enter rooms, look in closets, or intrude into any areas where you haven't been explicitly invited. Respect a host's privacy by erring on the side of caution--even when visiting friends or family.
  • Do not bring a pet, even an outside pet, without asking. If your host seems hesitant when you ask about bringing your pet, don't. Not everyone loves your dog as much as you do. If you are permitted to bring your pet, clean up after it regularly.
  • Don't be cheap. Nobody likes anyone who is cheap, especially not a cheap (and arrogant) house guest. If you're truly having financial issues, be humble and show appreciation and offer to do things around the house. If you are truly having financial issues, you should feel even more grateful that your friend and his family is willing to help you out during a time of need. The wrong thing to do is float to the couch after a meal they cooked for you, not help with dishes or other chores, and leave w/o leaving as much as a thank-you note. If you weren't helpful, you should at least be grateful -- but to be neither helpful nor grateful after staying in your friends' home for two months with two children immediately prior to your friends' wedding... that is a nightmare of a house guest.
  • Even if you think your friends are doing well financially, this is not an excuse to not offer to contribute or to not express appreciation for your stay. Your friends are not your parents. A meaningful expression of appreciation would have sufficed, but leaving neither that nor anything else is unbelievable.
  • Were you invited by your hosts for this visit, or did you invite yourself? If you have invited yourself, which is most often the case, these steps are paramount to being allowed to return for another visit. Even if your hosts invited you, keep all of these steps in mind and sincerely do them. Remember, you're on vacation, they're not. Make offers to help and follow through. Your actions, or lack of them, will be filed away in your hosts' memory banks, and good or bad, will be remembered when you ask to return!
  • If you and your spouse do not talk to each other about anything of substance, this is a recipe for disaster when you spend a significant period of time under your friends' roof. The wife should not assume the husband offered something for your stay (or expressed gratitude in any other way), and the husband should not assume the wife's chores around the house compensates for your stay especially if she was mostly busy bathing the children, since in reality he offered nothing and someone picking up after your family was an expectation for your hosts... your hosts are left scratching their heads wondering what is wrong with you and your wife.
  • If don't know your way around the town, ask for your host to accompany you on your outings, so that you don't get lost.

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